John John in the Sky
John John (Christian Craft), a vivacious ten-year-old who loves airplanes – especially crop dusters – has a difficult home life. His strict father Billy Joe (Randy Travis), who believes that “sparing the rod spoils the kid,” disciplines John John with a heavy hand. Billy Joe also abuses his wife Sondra (Romy Rosemont), who dreams of leaving Mississippi one day to join a hippie commune in San Francisco. One night, after Billy Joe loses his temper, John John decides to build an airplane of his own so that he can fly his mother out West.
John John enlists the help of Zeola (Rusty Schwimmer), a mildly retarded thirty-two-year-old who is determined to help the young boy carry out his plan. As the two build the plane, they develop a friendship. However, just before it is completed, Sondra decides to take John John and drive to San Francisco. As Sondra and John John leave, Zeola takes the plane out for a test flight but crashes because of a broken tail.
Now as an adult, John thinks back on that tragic day and wonders what happened. He journeys back home in search of answers. What became of Zeola? What became of his father? How will this journey change his life?
This film captures the cruelty of an abusive father and the ramifications of that behavior. The life of a ten-year-old can be fun and exciting, unless he is always afraid of what his father might do. But determination is also a bi-product of this cruelty and John John is determined to build a plane to fly himself and his mother to safety. Rusty Schwimmer portrays Zeola with feeling and passion. Overall, this is a great film. Travis is very believable as the abusive father/husband, and Cristian Craft is wonderful as John John.